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Every week I check the weekly summary from Mint to check on our spending. I'm looking for any money leaks I can find so I can fix them. Something that was a concern of mine years ago was bank fees, especially ones from the ATM. ATM fees can be an unexpectingly big expense when left unchecked.
Fixing My ATM Habits
When I was working and going to school, I used to grab cash at the most convenient ATM, whether it was my bank or not. As I noticed my balance dwindling faster than expected, I noticed that my out of network fees were hitting me $5-6 each withdrawal. I quickly changed my habits and was able to keep more of my money.
My husband doesn't have that problem. He's developed a habit of getting cash every couple weeks for his personal expenses, such as lunch and coffee. He's been pretty consistent with spending, so he minimizes his trips to the bank.
Fixing the ATM Money Leaks
How can you save some cash and still get your money? Here are some tips that has helped me a lot and some that have helped others.
- Go to your own bank or credit union’s ATMs to withdraw your money. It's obvious, but going to your financial institution's ATMs will save you from ridiculous fees. If your bank/credit union doesn't have convienently located ATMs, you may want to switch.
- Use cash back with your debit card. If you're already making a purchase for groceries, for example, ask for some cash back. You won't incur a fee and you'll get the cash you need.
- Take out how much money you really need. Don't sabotage yourself and only take out $20-$40 at a time, if you spend more than that. Be realistic and got for the bigger withdrawal to minimize trips.
- Find no fee ATMs. Some ATMs don't charge a fee. The biggest network I know is the Allpoint network. ING Direct uses them and we tend to find them near us. Some gas stations such as Wawa and Sheetz have no fee ATMs in their stores. Check with your bank to see if they would charge you for the withdrawal.
Basically, it's about changing your behaviors a little bit to plug this money leak. I find ATM fees annoying, but avoidable for the most part. I believe that you have to take personal responsibility and adjust your habits if you want to make progress.
Your Thoughts on Avoiding ATM Fees
How do you feel about them? Are ATM fees an issue for you? Do you take out cash or do you rely on your check card?
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